As a result of lockdown, billions across the globe have turned to the internet to connect with friends, family, education, and work. Connectivity is no longer a convenient accessory; it has evolved into an indispensable lifeline. Unfortunately, not everywhere in the world has the technology or the privilege to access this lifeline.
Even in some of the most advanced countries, sufficient connectivity can be a real problem. With increased dependency on data intensive services such as video streaming, the pandemic has highlighted the need for more widely available and reliable broadband connectivity.
At the end of 2020, the UK government announced the next steps in its £5bn strategy to deliver next-generation, gigabit-capable broadband to the entire country. The aim is to reach at least 85% of underserved UK premises by 2025. Alternative Network Providers (AltNets) have the means and flexibility to achieve this. The UK isn’t the only market to take action on the demand for connectivity and make the full fibre breakthrough.
Governments taking action
On September 18, 2020, the European Commission (EC) released a recommendation on how all EU member states could ensure a timely and more cost-effective way of deploying high-capacity broadband connectivity infrastructure and develop a ‘joint approach’ to 5G rollouts.
As of April 2021, Ofcom found that over 1.5m UK households still do not have internet access, with 6% of homes having no connectivity at all. For these households to finally be connected, and others in similar situations around the world, FTTP with complimentary wireless networks are crucial. The UK has so far succeeded in making vast inroads to deploy ultrafast broadband.
Some European countries are ahead of the UK in their plans to deploy a full fibre rollout. Across the UK and other countries, AltNets are already building these networks. With the capability to reach further, AltNets have a central role to play in delivering the scale of FTTP required across the globe.
The alternative future of connectivity
Under its recent plans to cover more of the UK, the government is encouraging AltNets to bid for contracts in the Building Digital UK (BDUK) programme alongside larger industry players.
In 2015, AltNets and challenger ISPs only held 8.7% of the overall market share. That number has since grown to 12.5% and is expected to reach 14.5% by 2025.
The value that challenger ISPs bring is clearly being recognised, and by supporting AltNets throughout the bidding process, countries can begin to generate a level playing field for competition. This growth in competition will also drive down long-term costs for the supply chain and increase reliability in fibre.
By 2025, the world will be operating at the standards UK AltNets are currently setting, generating the global connectivity coverage that will transport us into the future.